They may have two places on the general classification podium seemingly wrapped up, but several riders for Team Sky have felt the wrath of ‘fans’ on the side of the road this Tour de France.
Maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins suffered minor burns to his arm when spectators running alongside the peloton with flares collided with him on the outskirts of Sarras, 25 kilometres from the close of Stage 12.
“I’m covered in all this yellow stuff,” said Wiggins. When flares are lit, a residue forms as part of the smoke plume.
“I got hit in the arm with a flare, burnt my arm a bit but it’s alright. It’s pretty dangerous, and I’m sure them guys are nursing a few wounds tonight because there were quite a few bottles in their direction.”
Meantime, his two Australian teammates Richie Porte and Michael Rogers discovered there is a price to pay when you’re riding in support of a Brit who is chasing the title held by Cadel Evans (BMC).
On Stage 11, Evans attacked Sky on the Glandon during Rogers’ hour-long stint setting tempo for Wiggins.
“Perhaps the Aussie’s (sic) booing @richie_porte and myself yesterday would like to pay our wages from now on! #getoverit” Rogers quipped on Twitter.
He later told the Sydney Morning Herald that much of the response from fans had been positive.
“Some guy on Twitter said I should have my passport taken away from me,” Rogers said. “That’s a bit extreme. But I was surprised by the support from the Australian public. From 100 messages I got, one or two were negative and 98 positive. At the end of the day we all have our jobs to do. When we have an Australian jersey it is a different story.
“We are all mates off the bike and I’m sure that Cadel understands that’s my job to do that,” he continued. “If it was the other way around I’m sure other Australians would be chasing me around. We all work for companies and get orders from our bosses and if we don’t do that we get sacked. It’s only a bike race. The world will still turn tomorrow.”
Robbie McEwen who’s currently fulfilling the role of sprint coach for Orica-GreenEdge labelled the negativity as “un-Australian” on his Twitter feed.
“And Aussie fans booing @mickrogers & @richie_porte for doing their job. Shame on you. Pull your heads in…”